Idols, Significance, and Security

 If you’re looking for a helpful biblical resource on idolatry, I very much recommend Richard Lints’ Identity and Idolatry.  I’ve read a few other good resources on idolatry, but in my view, this one is the best.  In this book, Lints talks about the various angles of idolatry, including image, identity, worship, purpose, significance, and security.  Speaking of significance and security, here’s an excerpt I appreciated:

At the heart of worship is a sense of ‘giving yourself away’ to another.  Key to worship then are the questions ‘To whom are you giving yourself away and in what manner are you giving yourself?’ Genuine worship is giving yourself to the living God in whom and for whom you ave been created.  Idolatry by contrast is substituting the true object of worship (God) for an imitation (idol) and reorienting the relationship from worship to possession.  One who worships the living God does not possess him for one’s own purposes.  But those who create an idol seek to possess it for their own purpose….

An idol is desired as a means to an end, and the end is significance and security on the individual’s own terms.  Since significance and security cannot be fulfilled by the idol, the idol creates a deeper longing for significance and security for that which it cannot provide.  This results in a chasing after the idol, driven by the conviction that eventually the idol will somehow provide the promised significance and security.  The cycle repeats itself.  Longing provides the opportunity to chase, and chasing creates a deeper longing.  Effectively the idol possesses the one who fashioned it.  The yearning for significance and security that initiated the dynamic of idolatry has in fact led to a deeper dissatisfaction and a greater frustration – a dissatisfaction and frustration caused by the inability of the idol to fulfil that which it appeared to promise.

That’s worth reading again – and it helps us as God’s people fight against the idols in our own hearts and lives.

Richard Lints, Identity and Idolatry, p. 156-7.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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“Who Am I” by J. Bridges: A Review

Who Am I?: Identity in Christ If you are a follower of Jesus, what answers would you give to this question: “Who am I?”  There are some that might first come to mind, such as “a child of God,” or “a Christian,” or maybe, “A disciple.”  Or, perhaps on those bad days in life we might answer, “I don’t know!” or “I’m not really sure.”  Since we still struggle with sin, sometimes Christians have deep questions about their identity.  Wise counsel and help answering this question is needed!

Jerry Bridges wrote a little booklet to help God’s people answer this very important question: “Who am I?”  In under 100 pages, Bridges gives Christians some biblical insight to consider when they ask questions about their identity.  As with Bridges’ other books, this one is clear, straightforward, easy to understand, gospel centered, and full of biblical truth.

There are eight chapters; each gives a biblical answer to the question, “Who am I?”  I don’t want to give away all Bridges’ answers here because I want our readers to think about answering that question themselves.  For a few examples, however, Bridges talks about justification, adoption, and being a servant of Christ.  I have to admit that the contents weren’t necessarily groundbreaking for me, but I was edified by he way he took Christian truth and applied it to the identity question.  This book did give me a fuller answer to the question at hand.

Who Am I isn’t meant to be a doctoral dissertation on identity, but it is a great introduction to the topic.  I’m also glad to see it is brief, since (I’m guessing) people who are deeply struggling with this question and possibly battling depression (for example) might not have the energy to read through a longer book. Also, this is a good book to give to newer Christians, or Christians who are unable to read longer and deeper theological books.  In fact, I’d give this to a high school student who is wrestling with identity; I’d also give it to an older person who has questions about identity.  Bridges does a fine job of making the subject readable and he constantly focuses the readers on Christ’s work and God’s grace throughout the book.

I do wish there were some application questions at the end of each chapter, since this book might be a good one to read and discuss in a group (or one-on-one) over the course of eight weeks.  However, if you’re leading the group it wouldn’t be tough to write your own sets of discussion questions.  Bottom line: If you’ve been looking for a book like this, or if you’ve not read one like it before, I recommend it!

Jerry Bridges, Who Am I? (n.l. Cruciform Press, 2012).

shane lemsr
hammond, wi